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December 17, 2010
Christmas 1940 in Normandy . . . and Santa WineMatch's Special Gift!
This special Christmas memory was shared with me by my mother, during the German occupation of France at the start of World War II. It seems these humble beginnings, much like those of so many family-owned wineries, are those of great trials and challenges, but the real story here is about perseverance. My mother, Brigitte, had just turned 8 years old when this story takes place in Pierrefique, a small village in northern France (Haute-Normandy) with a population of less than 50 at the time.

"The winter of 1940 in Normandy, France, was a rigorous winter. Inside the Normandy style house, logs were burning in the large fireplace. Outside, icicles festooned the hangar, and the countryside was a blanket of snow. It was Christmas Eve, in World War II occupied France. My parents had sheltered four British flyers. They were sharing our lives and our fears, and tonight on this memorable Christmas Eve, they were sharing the joy of Christmas, away from their homeland and loved ones. Papo, my father, had gone in the woods earlier in the day to cut down a Christmas tree. With the help of the "British boys", as we called them, we trimmed the tree with delicate clip-on glass ornaments and silver garlands. The finishing touch was the lighting of the candles by father and the boys. We gathered around the fireplace in a religious silence-the bright flames lighting up our faces. At regular intervals, the crackling of the wood and the sound of the winds would break the silence. When we spoke, it was in  a  low  tone  of  voice,  in  case  a

case a collaborationist would make a surprise visit and turn us over to the enemies. Our Christmas dinner consisted of beans and biscuits. A large kettle of beans had been simmering on the wood burning stove for hours, and the aroma filled the room. My father had baked some biscuits that he had cut in fancy shapes. My parents had found some old toys in the attic and we rejoiced that there were presents. The bells of the little church of Pierrefiques were ringing in the night, calling on the believers to come and worship. On this memorable Christmas Eve, we received the gifts of joy, courage and strength for the days to come."


With the economy doing its mini ups and downs like a sleigh trying to take off, we thought it wise to lighten up the sleigh a bit and do our part to get off the ground and on our way! Ho, ho, ho!

In the next eNewsletter, we announce the best wines and wineries of 2010!


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